After months of speculation, CBS is sending beleaguered CBS News President Andrew Heyward to the exit, replacing him by expanding the turf of CBS Sports President Sean McManus.
On Wednesday, CBS Chairman Les Moonves named McManus president of both the network's sports and news divisions. McManus takes the new slot Nov. 7, but Heyward "will assist in the transition and depart CBS at the end of the year, when his current contract expires," CBS said in a statement.
A 24-year veteran of CBS News, Heyward will step down from a position he has held for nearly 10 years. Only Richard Salant held the CBS news president position longer.) "As for my own plans, I do not intend to 'pursue other interests' or even 'spend more time with my family,' wonderful as it is," Heyward wrote to the CBS staff on Wednesday. "I am going to remain fully engaged in the media business."
Heyward's job has clearly been in jeopardy for months. Under his watch, CBS News was rocked by the 60 Minutes Wednesday "Memogate" scandal that spurred the purge of key news executives and shoved Dan Rather out of the anchor chair. But long before that, CBS' cornerstone evening newscast had been in a ratings slump, unable to get traction against the competition. Moonves has been talking for months about completely overhauling the network's approach to news, never a good sign for the guy who's been in charge of the division.
Moonves said McManus' success at CBS Sports has prepared him for "significant tasks" ahead at CBS News. "I am very pleased that we have such a brilliant executive within our management team who can take on this crucial role."
McManus is a surprise choice, never one of the names CBS insiders or outsiders buzzed about for months.
The son of ABC's legendary sports anchor Jim McKay, he has spent his entire career on the sports side of the TV business and has no background in news. While sports coverage involves management of a massive TV production operation, it remains to be seen how McManus will cope with some of the high-stakes issues the news division faces.
"CBS News is a truly great institution, and its people have defined excellence in broadcast journalism since the beginning of the medium," McManus said in a statement. "The business is changing and the challenges are many. I'm confident that, while maintaining the standards and values of this great organization, we can build upon its legacy and become even more successful, competitive and relevant to the viewers and the nation we serve."
McManus began his career in 1977 at ABC Sports, where he worked as a producer. After jumping to NBC Sports, he secured his first management job as VP of program planning and development, helping negotiate key sports rights deals. He left NBC in 1987 to join Trans World International, the TV division of sports agent and marketing form International Management Group. He served as senior VP of U.S. TV sales and programming.
McManus joined CBS in December 1996, replacing Dave Kenin. McManus' primary mission was to get the network back into the football business. CBS had lost its share of the NFL contract to Fox and ratings in other dayparts suffered. McManus outbid NBC in the next round of negotiations and re-entered football in 1997.
He also hammered out an unusually long, 11-year rights deal for the NCAA men's basketball championship.